So, has everyone come down from that Olympic high of Sunday night? Ready to focus on the quarterfinals today?
It’s been a fun couple of days for college hockey fans – and not just the BC fans who saw their team smash Merrimack on Tuesday ngiht – reveling in the success of so many college hockey alumni in Sunday night’s US-Canada game.
And for someone who spends a good chunk of his time sizing up the race for the Hobey Baker Award – and has, on occasion, endured conversations about the Hobey-winners who never made it on the next level – Sunday night’s US win was gratifying on another level.
For all the great performances in Sunday’s game – I’m still trying to figure out how Ryan Kesler got that shot off – two of the players standing tallest were the two Hobey winners on the team.
The go-ahead goal, of course, came from Chris Drury, the 1998 winner from Boston University, who adds another chapter to his legacy as a consummate winner, the well-worn story that stretches from his Little League World Series victory with Trumbull, Conn. all the way through his Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, and including the 1995 NCAA title and 1998 Hobey Baker Award that bookend his celebrated career at BU.
(Now, if only Chris could add a great accomplishment with the Rangers to that, I’d be happier than ).
Meanwhile, watching Ryan Miller in net, fending off shots from the likes of Sidney Crosby, Dany Heatley and Jonathan Toews, it was easy to see how he stopped 95 percent of his shots over the course of the 2000-2001 season en route to the last Hobey to be won by a goaltender. If my dad hadn’t grown up a Michigan fan, I probably would have been doing some “Go Green, Go White” cheers on my couch on Sunday.
Of course, Hobey Baker never played in the Olympics. He repreented the US internationally in a much more important venue, flying in World War I. Still, it does seem appropriate that two of the biggest stars of Sunday’s win were Hobey Baker winners.
After all. while I’ll be the last one to try to compare the US win over Canada on Sunday to the Miracle on Ice (Although I can hardly blame the major media outlets who have done so, given the 30-years-minus-a-day timing), it is somewhat fitting that two Hobey Baker winners helped played key roles in the biggest US hockey win since 1980. After all, remember who won the very first Hobey Baker Award:
It should hardly be news to anyone reading this that things don’t always work out the way you plan. As I finish up my series of applying Ken Campbell’s “Campbellnomics” to the top contenders for the Hobey Baker Award (among skaters), it’s worked out a little differently than I planned.
This was originally supposed to be a five-part series, looking at five skaters each each of the “Big Four” conferences and five from Atlantic Hoeky and the CHA. Good idea, I think, if a bit time-consuming to go through 25 players’ game-by-game performances and look at when they scored their points. But as it turned out, the idea got a bit of tweaking, some necessary, and some, well…
The first big change was when I decided to look at defensemen separately from forwards, adding what would be five players to the list. No big deal, although it turned a five-part series into six. The night I decided to do that, I approached Boston University SID Brian Kelley and asked his opinion on which of the Terriers’ offensive defensemen I should include, Colby Cohen or Kevin Shattenkirk.
That question eventually became moot, though, as I decided to go beyond my five-player cutoff in the CCHA and WCHA, adding Miami’s Carter Camper and Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion to my list. If I could decide it was too close to cut those players off, then why not include both Shattenkirk and Cohen?
Finally, I had intended to get all of this done before Friday’s games, so that all the players would be on as even a playing field as posisble.
Yeah, that didn’t quite work out. As I sat down to total the Campbellnomics points for the six defensement on my list, Friday night’s games had been played. So, what to do? Well, as it turns out, five of the six defensemen went without a Campbellnomics point on Friday, and the one who did score didn’t affect his standing. So we’ll go with their pre-Friday averages, make it all nice and even.
We start with the defenseman who got me started on all this, Wisconsin’s Brendan Smith. Smith is the nation’s top scoring defenseman with 12 goals and 21 assists in 27 games, ranking 18th in the nation overall in scoring average with 1.22 PPG. Applying the Campbellnomics system, he checks in with 20.5 Campbellnomics points, giving him an average of .79 CPPG. It’s worth noting that while defensemen’s generally lower goal totals figure to hurt in a system that values goals twice as much as assists, Smith has a higher Campbellnomics average than any of the three Wisconsin forwards I looked at on Friday: Derek Stepan, Michael Davies and Blake Geoffrion.
On the other side of the country, New Hampshire sophomore Blake Kessel is also putting up some big numbers for the Wildcats, averaging 1.11 points per game on six goals and 24 assists in 27 games for the Wildcats. Applying the Campbellnomics system, Kessel checks in with a total of 19 points, just behind Smith, with an average of .73 CPPG (as of Friday morning).
Checking in right behind Smith and Kessel on the defensemen scoring list is Yale’s Thomas Dignard, who has five goals and 15 assists in 19 games for an average of 1.05 points per game. However, Dignard’s numbers take a stunning drop in Campbellnomics, with a total of just 6.5 Campbellnomics points and an average of .36 CPPG.
Now, we’re skipping three players to get to our next two, and I’ll explain that. Two are Canisius’ Carl Hudson and Bemidji State’s Brad Hunt, and I think history shows that it’s very tough for defensemen and forwards to get good Hobey buzz outside the Big Four conferences. The third is Maine’s Will O’Neill. The thing about O’Neill is that he hasn’t gathered much buzz on the national stage yet, and it’s also VERY clear who the Black Bears’ Hobey candidate is. So for the moment, we’ll skip O’Neill.
That brings us to the two BU defensemen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen. Cohen, of course, has the Campbellnomics goal of all Campbellnomics goals on his resum, the OT goal in the NCAA title game last season, and has more goals than assists this season, with 12 goals and 10 assists to his credit for an average of .88 PPG, ranking seventh among defensemen. Meanwhile, Shattenkirk has four goals and 18 assists this season, tying for 11th among defensemen with .81 PPG. When the Campbellnomics system is applied, though, roles are reversed, as Shattenkirk has a total of 15 Campbellnomics point through 26 games (.58 CPPG), and Cohen totals 12 Campbellnomics points in his 24 games (.50 CPPG). For what it’s worth, Cohen’s assist on Ross Gaudet’s tying goal in last night’s BU win over Maine gives him another point and ups his average to .52 CPPG, but his standing doesn’t change, so we’ll stick with .50 for now.
Finally, early on in the season, UMass-Lowell’s Nick Schaus got a bit of Hobey buzz during the Rvier Hawks’ hot start, and while he’s faded a bit, he has just as many points as Shattenkirk. That said, however, Campbellnomics isn’t nearly as kind to Schaus, awarding him a total of 7.5 points, for an average of .29 CPPG.
For the record, despite my disappointing grade in freshman calculus once upon a time, I am perfectly capable of counting, so yes, I do know that I tracked six CCHA players instead of five. With a team like Miami, having been so dominant and so balanced this season, I thought it made sense to toss one more RedHawk into the mix, particularly since Carter Camper and Tommy Wingels have (for now) the same number of points.
The reason I bring this up is because in looking at another top team, Wisconsin, as I apply Ken Campbell’s “Campbellnomics” stats to the WCHA’s top-scoring forwards, I expanded one more time, and included not one, not two, but three Badgers in my analysis.
(Cue UHF line: “Badgers? Badgers? We don’t need no stinking Badgers!)
Actually, we do need them, sicne they’re one of the top teams in the country, and they have one of the top offenses in college hockey. Of course, it’s also an offense that has some balance to it, with four players with 28 points or more, including three 30-point scorers, and where the Badger forwards are concerned, that’s not a good thing in the Hobey race (we’ll get to Brendan Smith in our last installment). With a team that’s winning big – thanks to both that prolific offense and a stifling defense – and getting production from many different sources (seven players have five or more goals), the chances that a given player will be involved on the deciding goal(s) of the game are reduced. That’s trouble in the Campbellnomics system, which awards points only on six types of goals: first goal, go-ahead goal, tying goal, comeback goal, last lead, and overtime (you get one point per goal and half a point per assist for each category the goal falls into).
Applying the system to the Badgers’ top forwards, the fine seasons being enjoyed by Derek Stepan and Michael Davies take a hit. Davies, who’s 13th in the country with 1.28 points per game on 11 goals and 21 assists, totals just 13.5 Campbellnomics points, for an average of .54 CPPG. Derek Stepan, meanwhile, has 31 points (6g, 25a) in 25 games, and ranks 18th in the country with 1.24 points per game, but the digits get flipped in Campbellnomics, and he has 13 points for an averaged of .52 CPPG. The big impact man among Wisconsin’s forwards is Blake Geoffrion, which makes sense, since the system favors goals, and he’s the top goal scorer for Mike Eaves’ team. Geoffrion’s 18 goals and 10 assists in 26 games give him an average of 1.08 PPG (45th in the nation), and his Campbellnomics score is 17 points, good for .65 CPPG.
Meanwhile, at Minnesota Duluth, forwards Jack Connolly and Justin Fontaine have been having big years for the Bulldogs, ranking 10th and 17th, respectively, in the nation in points per game. Surprisingly, despite similar point breakdowns (16g, 23a for Connolly, 17g, 19a for Fontaine), Fontaine scores significantly higher in the Campbellnomics system, as his 20.5 Campbellnommics points average out to .71 CPPG, compared to 16.5 Campbellnomics poitns and .55 CPPG for Connolly.
The big winner in the WCHA, though, is Denver forward Rhett Rakhshani. Rakhshani – and how come no video game geek in Denver has nicknamed him “Prince of Persia?” – is 16th in the nation in scoring with 17 goals and 18 assists in 28 games for an average of 1.25 points per game, and when the Campbellnomics system, he leapfrogs the WCHA’s other top scoring forwards, for 23 Campbellnomics poitns and a .82 CPPG average.
Of course, through all of this, there’s an elephant in the room, since Brendan Smith is the one who got me started on all this. But that’s fine, because the defensemen are next.
Obviously, the conference has an impressive crown jewel in Miami, the nation’s top ranked team and a likely top seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. That said, however, according to the latest PairWise Rankings, only three teams from the conference would make the tournament were the season to end today, and Michigan, for the first time in 20 years, wouldn’t be one of them.
More relevant to our discussion, however, is the dearth of top-ranked scorers. Of the top 20 players in the nation in points per game, none of them plays in the CCHA. Corey Tropp is tops, ranking 22nd, but we’ll get to him. But with what we’ve been up to lately, that may not be much of an issue. After all, to borrow from Ken Campbell – and really, I’m borrowing his whole “Campbellnomics” system – we’re not asking how many, we’re asking how many mattered.
To recap, we’re awarding a point per goal and half a point per assist for every one of these six categories a player’s point falls into: first goal, go-ahead goal, tying goal, last lead, comeback goal, overtime goal.
We’ll start with Corey Tropp, the top scorer in the conference with 1.22 points per game on 20 goals and 19 assists in 32 contests. Applying the Campbellnomics system, we find that Tropp has had as big a hand as you would expect in the Spartans’ success this season, he checks in with 33 Campbellnomics points, for an average of 1.03 CPPG.
Next on the list is Northern Michigan’s Mark Olver, who’s had a strong season for the Wildcats, with 33 points (15g, 18a) in 29 games for an average of 1.14 PPG, good for 32nd in the country. Unfortunately for Olver – and even more unfortunately for other top CCHA players we’ll be looking at tonight – the big points in this system usually involve winning games, and the Wildcats haven’t done as much of that as they would like this season. All told, Olver checks in with 18.5 Campbellnomics points and .64 CPPG, a respectable total on a team that’s not winning big.
Speaking of teams not winning big, Ohio State has had a rough landing after last season’s trip to the NCAA tournament, which means that a number of Zac Dalpe‘s 31 points (15g, 16a) have gone to waste. Dalpe has been able to amass just 13 Campbellnomics points in 28 games this season, averaging out to just .46 CPPG, the lowest average of any player we’ve looked at. But that’s what happens when a team isn’t winning.
And if there’s any consolation for the disappointing season in Columbus, it’s that “That School Up North,” better known to the rest of us as Michigan, is also suffering through a down year. That’s left the Wolverines’ top scorer, Carl Hagelin, a similar problem to Dalpe. Hagelin has 33 points in 31 games this season on 13 goals and 20 assists, but that 1.06 PPG average only proves good for 16.5 Campbellnomics points, or an average of an even 0.5 CPPG.
But what, then, of the team that is winning, and winning big, those top-ranked Miami RedHawks? The scoring has been very balanced for Rico Blasi’s team – as the fine folks at INCH noted this week, four RedHawks have 24 points or more this season, so there hasn’t been the same kind of opportunity for one player to shine above all the others. That said, Miami does have a pair of players leading the team in points per game in forwards Tommy Wingels and Carter Camper. I initially planned to zero in solely on Wingels (Especailly after he stepped up bigtime at the Frozen Four last season), but I figured that as long as I was going through all of Miami’s games, I may as well take a look at Camper as well (particuarly since I know that a lot of TV folks like saying his name…). It paid off, as Camper (12g, 19a) . Wingels, with 14 goals and 17 assists this season, has a total of 25.5 Campbellnomics points, and an average of .85 CPPG. Camper, meanwhile, showed he’s hardly an afterthought with 19 Campbellnomics points and an average of 0.63 CPPG.
So, just to recap:
Corey Tropp, Michigan State: 33 (1.03)
Tommy Wingels, Miami: 25.5 (.85)
Mark Olver, Northern Michigan: 18.5 (.64)
Carter Camper. Miami: 19 (.63)
Carl Hagelin, Michigan: 16.5 (.5)
Zac Dalpe, Ohio State: 13 (.46)
Now, Tropp, as others have pointed out, is problematic because of his suspsension last season. That said, he’s proven that he’s more than just the top scorer in the CCHA, because he’s there when it counts, more often than not. Also, Tommy Wingels hasn’t been part of the Hobey conversation this season until recently, but even with three other skaters with 24 points on his team, and a lower point total than others, his Campbellnomics average also shows a player who knows how to step up when it counts.
What do you think? Is Wingels a likely Hobey Finalist (or better) this season?
We’re wrapping up our tour of the East tonight, as we apply Ken Campbell’s “Campbellnomics” system from the Hockey News to the top Hobey Baker candidates in ECAC Hockey (among forwards, anyway). These guys haven’t been getting much Hobey buzz this season, but as this system that values the most meaningful goals of the game shows, there are definitely some players worth paying attention to here.
Again, under this system, players earn a full point for a goal and a half a point for an assist for each of the six categories – go-ahead goal, tying goal, first goal, last lead, comeback goal, overtime – that a goal falls into.
Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, the big “Campbellnomics” winners at the Beanpot final on Monday night would have been BU’s Kevin Shattenkirk (two points for a go-ahead goal and the first goal) and BC’s Carl Sneep (two points for the go-ahead goal and the last lead. Chris Kreider and Cam Atkinson would have come up empty, which shows the flaws in the system, but I still say these are numbers worth considering.
We’ll start with the ECAC Hockey player I’ve been watching the longest, Cornell’s Blake Gallagher. Gallgher got off to the hottest start Cornell has seen in a forward in a very long time, and although he’s cooled off a bit from his goal-per-game pace in the first month-plus of Cornell’s season, he’s still No. 14 in the country in points per game with 14 goals and 14 assists in 22 games (1.27 PPG). Applying the Campbellnomics system, Gallagher stands up quite well, totalling 21.5 Campbellnomic points for an average of .98 CPPG.
Meanwhile, a player at another school whose fans enjoy shouting the word “RED” – RPI’s Chase Polacek, has quietly established himself as the No. 8 scorer in the country, averaging, 1.43 points per game on 18 goals and 23 assists. Even more impressive is that Polacek has amassed 33 Campbellnomics points, for an average of 1.1 CPPG. As a frame of reference, the NHL leader in this category, Sidney Crosby, is averaging 1.14 CPPG, so Mr. Polacek is doing quite well for himself this season.
The big story in the Capital District this season, however, has been at Union, where senior forward Mario Valery-Trabucco has led a breakout season for the Dutchmen with 16 points and 19 assists in 27 games, tying for 11th in the country in total PPG. The Campbellnomics system, however, is not so kind to the Dutchman, crediting him for 20.5 points, or .71 CPPG. A respectable score, certainly, but not quite approaching the gaudy numbers of Polacek and Gallagher.
Valery-Trabucco and his Union teammates are chasing Gallagher’s Big Red, and Yale is in the same position, tied with the Dutchmen for second in the conference behind Cornell. Keith Allain’s Bulldogs have gotten major contributions from several forwards, but I chose Broc Little to represent the Elis here, since the system favors goals, and he has them. He has 18, to be exact, to go with his eight assists. Introduce Campbellnomics to the proceedings, meanwhile, and there’s still nothing small about Little’s contributions, as he checks in with 20 Campbellnomics points in 23 games, or .87 CPPG.
Finally, we check in with Colgate and forward Austin Smith, currently tied for 20th in the country in points per game at 1.22. Factor in Campbellnomics, and he has 21 points in 27 games, good for .78 points per game. That seems to be in the median range that I’ve found so far for top-level forwards.
Of course, ECAC Hockey’s biggest achiever in this category is Polacek, who’s in Sidney Crosby territory with his Campbellnomics average. However, there’s more to consider here than this stat (although it is nice).
So, to recap:
Chase Polacek, RPI: 33 (1.1 CPPG)
Blake Gallagher, Cornell: 21.5 (.98 CPPG)
Broc Little, Yale: 20 (.87 CPPG)
Austin Smith, Colgate: 21 (.78 CPPG)
Mario Valery-Trabucco, Union: 20.5 (.71 CPPG)
Now, as things currently stand, Cornell is the only team in ECAC Hockey bound for the NCAA tournament, and that’s worth considering as part of this exercise. Union and Yale are challenging, of course, so I think an edge, if there is one, lies with Gallagher, Valery-Trabucco, and Little as they challenge for the title and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
That said, don’t be surprised if Polacek gets a nod when the finalists are announced. If there’s one thing these numbers show, it’s that Polacek’s performance this is hardly a freak game, as opposed to a player who fades at crunch time.
That’ll do it for tonight, but I’ll also take this opportunity to ask whom I’m missing. Think your team has a player who should be evaluated as a Hobey contender? Let me think, and I’ll get back to you.
As tonight’s Beanpot championship approaches, I figured that Monday would be a good day to take a look at the top Hobey Baker candidates in Hockey East and see how their performances this season measure up when I apply the Campbellnomics system and find out who’s coming up biggest at crunch time.
Campbellnomics, as you may recall from Sunday’s blog post, was developed by Ken Campbell of the Hockey News, and it focuses on the most meaningful goals of a game by awarding points only on seven types of goals: the first goal of the game, a goal that produces a lead, a goal that ties the game, a goal that produces the last lead, a goal that leads to a comeback, an overtime goal, and a shootout goal. The system also favors goal-scorers by awarding a full point for a goal in each of those situations, and half a point for an assist. One goal can count in multiple categories, so, for example, the scorer of a game-winning goal in a 1-0 win would receive four points: one for the first goal of the game, one for the lead, one for the last lead, and one for overtime. Meanwhile, a player who assisted on that goal would receive two points.
Ken keeps a running total throughout the season, and uses point totals rather than averages, since most NHL players play all 82 games. Because we’re dealing with college hockey, and different teams play different numbers of games, whether it’s because of tournament or travel exemptions or Ivy League restrictions, I’m using a per-game average. For frame of reference, the Campbellnomics leader as of last Tuesday, Sidney Crosby, was averaging approximately 1.18 CPPG (Campbellnomics Points Per Game). Also, while the CCHA does use a shootout, along with some holiday tournaments, I am not counting shootout goals, as they aren’t widespread enough in college hockey to make for a fair comparison.
Yesterday, I looked at the top five Hobey Baker candidates from Atlantic Hockey and the CHA, finding that Air Force’s Jacques Lamoureux led the the group with .80 CPPG, ahead of Bemidji State’s Matt Read (.73), Sacred Heart’s Nick Johnson (.73) and Canisius’ Cory Conacher (.71) Today, I’m turning my attention to Hockey East, and will be looking at five forwards: Maine sophomore Gustav Nyquist, UMass junior James Marcou, UMass sophomore Casey Wellman, New Hampshire senior Bobby Butler, and Boston College junior Brian Gibbons (later in the week, when I evaluate defensemen, I’ll be looking at UNH’s Blake Kessel, UMass-Lowell’s Nick Schaus and BU’s Kevin Shattenkirk or Colby Cohen…I still haven’t decided which).
Gustav Nyquist has been a key to Maine’s resurgence this season, which has the Black Bears contending for the Hockey East lead after a weekend sweep of UNH, not to mention a return to the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence. The Swedish sophomore is currently second overall in the nation in points per game with 14 goals and 26 assists in 26 games, an average of 1.54 points per game. He’s also only been held off the scoresheet in four contests this year. After looking at the game situations in which he scored, though, Nyquist comes up with a total of 18 Campbellnomics points, an average of .69 CPPG.
UMass has one of the most dynamic one-two punches in the nation in the tandem of junior James Marcou and sophomore Casey Wellman. Marcou, with his nine goals and 32 assists in 27 games, is No. 3 in the nation in scoring average at 1.52 points per game, while Wellman is 11th, his 19 goals and 16 assists averaging out to approximately 1.30 points per game. Under the Campbellnomics system, however, the roles are reversed. Because the system weights goals by awarding twice as much for them as for assists, Marcou’s total is 21 Campbellnomics points for a very respectable average of .78 CPPG, higher than any of the Atlantic and CHA players I evaluated on Sunday. Wellman, meanwhile, totaled 27.5 Campbellnomics points, averaging approximately 1.02 CPPG. Not only is Wellman scoring big for the Minutemen, but he’s scoring at big times, and Marcou is usually there with a helping hand.
New Hampshire’s Bobby Butler has been a Hockey East Player of the Month for the Wildcats, and has managed to keep up a high scoring pace following that honor. Overall, Butler’s 18 goals and 19 assists in 27 games give him an average of 1.37 PPG, good for seventh in the country. He also holds up nicely under the Campbellnomics system, totalling 24.5 Campbellnomics points for an average of .91 CPPG, No. 2 among all the players I’ve evaluated so far.
Finally, we turn to Brian Gibbons of Boston College, who made a nice impression at the Beanpot last week and will look to do the same tonight. Gibbons is ninth in the country in overall scoring, his 10 goals and 24 assists in 25 games averaging out to 1.36 points per game. Campbellnomics, however, is not kind to Gibbons, awarding him a total of 15.5 points, an average of .62 CPPG.
So, to recap:
Casey Wellman, So., F, UMass: 1.02 CPPG
Bobby Butler, Sr., F, UNH: .91 CPPG
James Marcou, Jr., F, UMass: .78 CPPG
Gustav Nyquist, So., F, Maine: .69 CPPG
Brian Gibbons, Jr., F, Boston College: .62 CPPG
Now, I’m certainly not saying that Casey Wellman is far and away a better canidate than Gustav Nyquist because of the cap in their scores. For one thing, I’m uncomfortable about not counting the goal that stretches a one-goal lead to a two-goal lead, particularly when a later score by the opposing team turns that goal into the game-winner. Also, Wellman has the benefit of playing with Marcou, a returning All-American, which Nyquist does not (this is not to discount the abilities of his teammates and linemates, but they don’t have Marcou’s credentials). This is just another element to look at as we compare these players and see who might be deserving of a spot as a Hobey Baker finalist when the selections are announced in a little more than a month.
And who knows? Maybe next season I’ll develop my own system. USCHOmetrics, anyone?
First of all, kudos to Wisconsin on a fantastic event Saturday at the Camp Randall Hockey Classic. I watched the game at a Buffalo Wild Wings (so I could watch the Rangers at the same time and have a good seat for UFC 109 as well), and it definitely turned some heads when people saw what was going on.
Sure, there was a little bit of an issue with the ice at one end, but to me, it was more than offset by cool stuff like Scott Gudmanson’s toque, the “IT’S A GREAT DAY FOR HOCKEY” sign on the boards in front of the benches, and of course, Adam Burish helping out on analysis between periods. I spent a fair bit of time talking with Adam during the 2005-06 seasonhope he heals soon and can continue his career with the Blackhawks, but he’ll be on TV for a long time when he’s done playing.
Anyway, in addition to watching for the event, I also had my eye on Wisconsin’s big stars and Hobey candidates: Brendan Smith, Derek Stepan, Michael Davies and Blake Geoffrion, and for once, I got to see something big from a Hobey contender in a game I was watching, as Smith scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in the third period in a huge comeback for the Badgers (and a heartbreaker for the Wolverines, who really could have used that win for their NCAA tournament chances).
As Smith scored his first goal, I said, “That’s a huge goal for him,” referring to his case as a potential Hobey winner. When he scored his second, I said, “Oh, just give it to him already.” Now, while I may have been a bit premature with that second statement, he’s having a Hobey-caliber season (his 1.27 PPG from the blueline is in the ballpark with Matt Carle’s 1.36 in 2005-06), and scoring two huge goals on a bigtime stage is the kind of performance that definitely gets a player closer to the Hobey.
But it got me thinking about the Hobey race and how best to account for when players put up their points, so I decided to take a closer look.
I’m going to borrow a system from Ken Campbell of the Hockey News, who posts his “Campbellnomics” columns on their website (according to his latest, the system is much kinder than the overall NHL scoring race to former collegians Zach Parise and Mike Cammalleri). Hey, lots of people think a guy named Ken’s system should determine the NCAA tournament teams, right?
The Campbellnomics system awards a point for on six types of goals: the first goal of a game, a goal that ties the game, a goal that produces a lead, the goal that produces the last lead, a goal that leads to a comeback, and an overtime goal. A goal can be counted more than once per category, so, for example, the player who scores the first goal of a shutout win would get three Campbellnomics points: one for the first goal, one for the lead, and one for the last lead. Assists on those goals count as well, but they only count for half a point per category, so the player who assisted on the aforementioned winning goal in a shootout would pick up 1.5 Campbellnomics points.
Now, it’s not an ideal system, from my point of view – I think a goal that stretches a one-goal lead into two or two into three is worthy of consideration – but it’s a pretty good way to go inside the numbers.
So, I’m going to take the Campbellnomics system and apply it to 30 skaters, five forwards from each of the “Big Four” conferences, five forwards from Atlantic Hockey and the CHA, and five defensemen. I’m not saying this is the be-all and end-all of who should be in the Hobey picture, but it’s something else to think about.
So, let’s get started with the Atlantic Hockey and CHA guys. There seems to be one spot a year reserved for a player from one of those conferences, and there are a number of worthy candidates for that spot this year, so it seemed like a natural to compare these guys first.
Canisius forward Cory Conacher has surged to the top of the national scoring chart this year, currently averaging 1.62 points per game on 18 goals and 24 assists in 26 games. Based on when those points were registered, though, his 42 points translate to 18.5 Campbellnomics points, or .71 CPPG (Campbellnomics Points Per Game).
Air Force forward Jacques Lamoureux has fallen off a bit from his scoring pace of a season ago, when he was No. 2 in the nation in points per game with 1.29 PPG, and tops in goals with 33. On the overall scoring chart, Lamoureux’s 1.17 PPG isalmost half a point per game behindConacher’s pace. However, Campbellnomics gives him 24 points in 30 games this season, placing him ahead of Conacher with .80 CPPG.
Sacred Heart had a 12-game unbeaten streak snapped by RIT on Friday night, but the Pioneers won Saturday to give theman 11-1-2 record in their last 14 games, making them one of the hottest teams in college hockey. The driving forces behind Sacred Heart’s success have been senior forwards Nick Johnson and Dave Jarman, who are currently tied for fourth in the national scoring race, averaging 1.39 points on 39 points in 22 games. The Campbellnomics system, however, awards Johnson 20.5 points, while helper-happy Jarman comes up shorter with 16 points, giving Johnson and Jarman averages of .73 CPPG and .57 CPPG, respectively.
Finally, we’ll jump over to the CHA and take a look at Bemidji State forward Matt Read, who’s been the conference’s top player from the drop of the first puck this season. Now, Read’s Hobey Buzz has fallen off since the early going, but he’s still one of the nation’s top 20 scorers – 19th, to be exact – with 14 goals and 18 assists in 26 games, an average of 1.23points per game. Meanwhile, Campbellnomics awards him 19 points, an average of .73 CPPG.
So, just to recap:
Jacques Lamoureux, Air Force: .80 CPPG
Matt Read, Bemidji State: .73 CPPG
Nick Johnson, Sacred Heart, .73 CPPG
Cory Conacher, Canisius, .71 CPPG
Dave Jarman, Sacred Heart, .57 CPPG
So, does that mean to pencil in Lamoureux for a Hobey finalist spot? Not necessarily. What we need to remember here is that Readleads a team that is ranked No. 7 in the country, and is in contention for a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament. The same can not be said for Air Force, which needs to win Atlantic Hockey to make the NCAA tournament. That’s a big difference maker.
Of course, Lamoureux also has the benefit of playing for a service academy, which ties in with the history of Hobey Baker, and a personal story and record of community work that bolster his case.
Could there be room for both? Possibly. But if there’s only one, my guess is that Read has the edge.
In any event, I think that Conacher is a candidate to go the way of Brian Leitch, Dave Borelli, and others who have posted big numbers but failed to receive Hobey recognition. But then again, he’s just a junior, so there’s always next year.
But that’s just me. What do you think? You think Ken Campbell’s onto something?
Greetings from the Fenway Park press box, where I am among several USCHO writers on hand for the “Frozen Fenway” battle between Boston College and Boston University. It was also where we just got a visit from the 2009 Hobey Baker winner, BU alum Matt Gilroy.
Gilroy, whose younger brother, Kevin, is a sophomore forward for the Terriers, is in town with the New York Rangers for a Saturday afternoon game against the Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden (or as I still call it, the KurtCenter), and was at Fenway along with Rangers teammate and BC alum Brian Boyle, who took his share of smack talk in the Rangers locker room this week from Gilroy and fellow BU Hobey winner Chris Drury.
“We were giving it to Boyle, me and Dru,” Gilroy said. “All in good fun.”
And while the 2009 Hobey Baker winner – only the fifth to win the Hobey and an NCAA title in the same season – certainly authoreda healthyshare of memorable moments in his time as a Terrier, he couldn’t help but be a bitenvious asa spectator Friday night.
“I wish it happened in my four years,” Gilroy said. “It was supposed to happen, everyone was talking about it, but it’s cool that it finally happened. I’m glad I’m in town for this, that I get to see this game, the rivalry, and that I get to see my brother play.”
And while both he and his brother are born-and-raised New Yorkers, the elder Gilroy wasn’t about to quarrel with the Terriers’ special jerseys, which went heavy on the Red Sox homages with special Red Sox-style lettering for “BOSTON” on the front, red numbers (with white outlines) on both sides, and a variation on the Sox logo (with skates) on the sleeves.
“Actually,” Gilroy said, “I think the jerseys look pretty cool. I’ll give it to them. BU did agood job with them. It’s cool to see it out there, and I can’t believe Fenway Park is a hockey rink in the middle of the winter.”
Normally this season, when I go to see a Hobey Baker candidate, he’s held off the scoresheet, but his team wins. This weekend, I got the opposite.
Jacques Lamoureux’s candidacy for the Hobey Baker Award last season was one of the bigger stories of the year in the Hobey race (next to, of course, the winner, Matt Gilroy, who became only the fifth player to win the Hobey and an NCAA title in the same season). With his Air Force Falcons inmy generalvicinityfor an Atlantic Hockey series against Sacred Heart last weekend, I braved the I-95 traffic (compounded by weather), and headed for the Milford Ice Pavilion on Sunday night.
Lamoureux wascredited with an assistin a 5-1 Sacred Heart win, as the Pioneers completed a weekend sweep of the the Falcons, who still share the Atlantic Hockey lead with Mercyhurst (although RIT is just one point behind despite having played four fewer games). Overall, points have been harder to come by this season for the Air Force junior, who currently sits 33rd in the nation in points per game with 1.20 PPG on 11 goals and 13 assists. Those are respectable numbers, but hardly the torrid pace of last season, when he scored 33 goals and handed out 20 assists.
“I think a lot of people know who I am this year,” Lamoureux said. “That doesn’t matter. I’ve just got to do the little things. I think, to this point, I’ve had a fair amount of success. I’m not on the pace I was last year, but I think last year was a special season, but that’s in the rearview mirror, and I’m just focused on this season.”
Still, Lamoureux sees where he can improve.
“I’ve been able to create a lot of chances each game, and I just haven’t been able to put them in like I did last year, but it’s just one of those things. I’m not unhappy with the way things are going, I’ve just got to keep working hard.
All of that said, Lamoureux is Atlantic Hockey’s player of the month for December, averaging a goal and an assist per game. Air Force has struggled offensively overall, so the Falcons will be looking to pick things up as a whole in 2010, and you can expect Lamoureux to be a part of that.”
The adjustment has generally been tough following Hobey finalist seasons, as it’s very rare to make it back to the top 10 twice in a row. Ryan Duncan won the award as a sophomore, and never sniffed the top 10 again. 2005 winner Marty Sertich made it back to the top 10 as a senior in 2006, as did his classmate, linemate, and fellow ’05 Hobey Hat Trick member Brett Sterling, but neither got back to the Hat Trick. Scott Parse at Nebraska-Omaha was also able to manage repeat finalist nods in 2006 and 2007, but it’s a very tall order, generally speaking.
Looking around at the other Player of the Month honorees for December, Hockey East has honored Gustav Nyquist of Maine. Nyquist notched nine points in five games last month on four goals and five assists, including two assists in Maine’s biggest win of the season, a win over No. 3 Colorado College at the Florida College Classic. Nyquist is the star of Maine’s comeback campaign in 2009-10, and should be a solid Hobey contender, as he sits second in the nation in points per game (1.58 PPG on 12 goals, 18 assists).
In the CCHA, the Player of the Month is Corey Tropp of Michigan State, whose seven goals and 10 points in the month led the nation. The Spartans have also come back strong (though they sit in the shadow of Miami’s powerhouse campaign), and while Tropp may not have the numbers at No. 16 in the nation in scoring, he could get himself into the conversation as the season goes along.
But really, though, who knows what will happen? It’s a new month, a new year, and a new decade. All I know is, it’s about to get very exciting.
If you follow this blog, you know I’m a big fan of the holiday tournaments as an opportunity for Hobey candidates to make their case. Not only is it non-conference competition (which gives candidates exposure to coaches in other conferences, who vote for the Hobey finalists), but it captures the finalists at mid-season form.
And, as it happens, there’s a particularly interesting group of games for this year’s Hobey contenders to take part in.
Wisconsin defenseman Brendan Smith is probably the leader in the Hobey race at this point. When you consider a defenseman who’s the No. 3 scorer in the country, playing for a top 10 team, and a plus on the score sheet, it’s hard to imagine a better candidate. Smith and the Badgers will take on another ranked opponent at the Badger showdown, either No. 9 Yale or No. 11 Ferris State, depending on the outcome of their game and the Badgers’ matchup with Merrimack.
Meanwhile, No. 4 Cornell’s dynamic duo of Blake Gallagher and Colin Greening have a big challenge in No. 3 Colorado College. The Tigers are a solid penalty-killing team, and will challenge the nation’s best power play, where Gallagher and Greening do the bulk of their damage.
Maine’s resurgence in Hockey East has been powered by Gustav Nyquist, the nation’s No. 5 scorer (1.47 PPG), and Nyquist will get a shot at either the Big Red or the Tigers, depending on the result of their game and the Black Bears’ matchup with Princeton. I haven’t written a whole lot about Nyquist, but he’s been an impact player for Tim Whitehead since his arrival in Orono, and if the Black Bears reclaim their usual position as a top four team in Hockey East by season’s end, Nyquist will likely have a lot to do with it, and he’ll be rewarded as such. Meanwhile, coaches in ECAC Hockey (and possibly the WCHA) will get a good look at Nyquist when they watch the video from this game for scouting purposes.
As far as goaltenders go, Denver’s Marc Cheverieface No. 5Boston College on Saturday in the Denver Cup. Last time the Eagles visited Magness Arena, in the 2005-06 season, they never saw the Pioneers, as the then-champs dropped their first-round game to Princeton, but this year, the matchups are predetermined, so regardless of what happens in the New Year’s Day games between Denver and Nebraska-Omaha and BC and St. Lawrence, the Eagles face the Pioneers, and Cheverie will get a look at the nation’s No. 5 offense.
Overall, it should be an interesting week in the Hobey race, and in college hockey as a whole.